The Profession and Practice of Medieval Canon Law: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Profession and Practice of Medieval Canon Law

1st Edition

By James A. Brundage


350 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789277
pub: 2004-08-04

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This latest collection of studies by James Brundage deals with the emergence of the profession of canon law and with aspects of its practice in the period from the 12th to the 14th centuries. Substantial numbers of lawyers systematically trained in canon law first appeared in Western Europe during the second half of the 12th, century and in the 13th they began to dominate the hierarchy of the Western church. By 1250 canon law had grown into something more than a profitable occupation: it had become a recognizable profession in the strict meaning of the term as it is still used today. University law faculties trained aspiring canonists in the mysteries of their craft and put them through intellectually demanding exercises that terminated in a formal examination before they received their degrees. Judges in church courts formally admitted them to practice after verifying their educational qualifications and administered prescribed rules of conduct. Particular topics are the canonists' system of legal ethics, the education and training of canon lawyers in university law faculties, and some fundamental features of the professional practice of canon law, both in medieval Europe and in the crusading states of the Levant.


'The essays […] hang together remarkably well, and scholars will be grateful to have such a rich source of material available to them in a single volume… Professor Brundage's style is readily accessible, even to non-specialists… Anyone who has worked his way through this volume […] can feel confident that in these pages he will have grasped the essence of the medieval canon law profession at work.' Ecclesiastical Law Journal '… there is no essay here from which readers will not profit. Brundage has an eye for the good anecdote. He must have assembled every telling example involving lawyers available from the medieval resources, and he has made good of them. Together with the evidence drawn from the writing of learned canonists, they enlarge our understanding of the Church and the history of the legal profession.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; The Legal Profession and Legal Ethics: The rise of professional canonists and development of the Ius Commune; The ethics of the legal profession: medieval canonists and their clients; The ethics of advocacy: confidentiality and conflict of interest in medieval canon law; The calumny oath and ethical ideals of canonical advocates; Entry to the ecclesiastical bar at Ely in the 14th century: the oath of admission; The monk as lawyer. Legal Education and Universities: Teaching canon law; Universities and the 'Ius Commune' in medieval Europe; The canon law curriculum in medieval Cambridge; The Cambridge faculty of canon law and the ecclesiastical courts of Ely; From classroom to courtroom: Parisian canonists and their careers. Fees, Costs and Legal Practice: The profits of the law: legal fees of university-trained advocates; Taxation of costs in medieval canonical courts; Legal aid for the poor and the professionalization of law in the Middle Ages; Contingent fees and the Ius Commune; The bar of the Ely consistory court in the 14th century: advocates, proctors, and others; Latin jurists in the Levant: the legal elite of the crusader states; The lawyers of the military orders; Addenda et corrigenda; Indexes.

About the Author

James A. Brundage is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of History, University of Kansas, Lawrence KS, USA.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General